Hi! I'm Ivandro Rodrigues, responsible for the Valentes do Leão football team. I want to share with you how this project came about.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have started to work with children in the Zambujal neighborhood, doing very simple activities with the aim of introducing them to the person of Jesus. One day, in a conversation with the team, we asked a question: “What do you kids like best?” “Football!!” was the unanimous response.
There was one day that for me personally was the most memorable. It was a Saturday and, as usual, we arrived for the activities with the boys. It turns out that there were no children on the field where we usually meet… We were told they should be at the soccer field, as it was a day to attract talent for a well-regarded club in Lisbon. We went there very happy, to see them play and participate in this moment, which would be important in the future realization of their dreams. When we arrived at the soccer field, we had a very unexpected surprise: the zambujal kids weren't on the field to play, but on the bench to watch! We found out that these clubs are not even within their reach, as they would have to pay a monthly fee in order to be part of the club. At that moment, I felt a great tightening in my heart and this experience made me reflect on the past. When I was about the same age as some of them, I also wanted to play at my neighborhood club but it wasn't possible because only one foreigner was allowed per club (in a locality where the majority of the population was from the PALOP). With the doors closed in my own neighborhood (5 minutes from home), I had to look for another club to pursue my dream of becoming a player, and I started to travel a distance of an hour to participate in training. On that day, when I returned from Zambujal, I felt that God was in this that had happened and that He wanted to fulfill the desire these children have to belong to something, not to stay on the bench but to play, participate, and fulfill their dreams. That's how the Valentes do Leão (Lion's roar) team was born.
On October 9th we had our first training with 9 boys. It was so good to see the joy of each one of them with the little we could offer: soccer balls and vests. Three weeks later, we already had 20 students, equipped and very happy to be accepted into the team. Even though we don't have an 11-a-side football field yet, we know that even when a door closes, the last word is always from the Lord.
During training, one of these boys approached me and said: “Mr. Ivandro, until now all my colleagues played in a club, except me. Now I have the Valentes do Leão and I'm very happy about it.” It is for testimonies like this that it is worth continuing.
As we are at the beginning of this journey, we have some financial and logistical challenges ahead. If you want to know how to be a part or how to help, get in touch with us!
“There are different types of service, but the Lord we serve is the same. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who works in all of us.” I Corinthians 12:5,6